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“Just wait. The Gophers haven’t played anybody.”

– everyone else before Saturday

The Gopher Football team entered Saturday’s game vs. Penn State as 6.5 point underdogs at home. It was clearly difficult even, for Gopher fans to envision a victory. That narrative was palpable for two weeks. It’s not surprising. This is Minnesota. We don’t get nice things here. History has proven that to us time and time again.

But, we are now living in PJ Fleck’s Minnesota… and PJ Fleck isn’t about a losing culture. Just days after signing a big contract extension, he and his Gophers were out to prove he’s already underpaid.

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Let’s take a moment to talk about Antoine Winfield Jr… This fucking guy almost left amidst the sexual assault scandal that rocked this University as PJ Fleck was rolling into town… After one more pick in the half, he is tied for the most INT’s in the NCAA with 7. That’s also a number good enough for a share of the team record for a season… with 3 games left to play before the postseason gets underway. I have no idea how we are going to hold this guy from the NFL for another year. That’s an absolute positive, though. The guy deserves everything that comes his way.

Gophers were showing up in every facet of this game. The defense had big time holds when they were needed, created turnovers, and held down an unbelievably good Penn State offense. Tanner Morgan and Rashad Bateman deserve their own paragraph though… holy shit, have a day. Those two continued to punch Penn State in the face all game long. Drive after drive after drive… they just kept coming. That connection is one that will be special while both are on campus. Bateman ended the day with 203 yards and a TD on 7 catches. He’s cementing himself as one of the best WR’s in the country. Tanner did most of his damage in the first half but he came up biggest in the season’s biggest game… which is not surprising if you hang around him and have watched him play all season. The kid is a fucking gamer. And the time/space he got in the pocket… might have been the best of the season… against BY FAR the best D-Line they have played. The 24 points the Gophers put up in the first half were the most Penn State had given up all year… for an entire game.

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The second half was a 30-minute butt-hole clencher. Penn State started their charge back right away, with a couple of scoring drives that got them within 5. Franklin tried to go for 2 late in the 3rd quarter, to pull it within a FG, but the Gophers stopped them in one of their many huge stops on the day. No defense is going to hold that much talent down all day but the Gopher defense held when they needed to… especially on the last drive of the game.

That’s what it came down to. The Gophers were the better team all game but it wasn’t going to come easy. Penn State drove all the way down the field and looked bound to score the go-ahead TD until they were flagged for offensive pass interference 5 yards from the end zone. That would lead to this game-ending interception.

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The Minnesota Gophers are for real and there won’t be anyone who says differently this week. PJ Fleck has saved this program and who the fuck knows where we are going next… all I know, is we are now 9-0 with just 3 games remaining, and a Big Ten Championship game that has our names written all over it.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCES

1. PJ Fleck

2. Carter Coughlin and Antoine Winfield Jr.

3. Tanner Morgan and Rashod Bateman

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Eric Strack

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan Founder (The George Washington of this website)

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